A team of firefighters from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service is taking on a static bike fundraiser in memory of their close friend and colleague while raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity.
Firefighter Andy Watt passed away on 28 July 2022, and has been described by his friends – who he worked at Loughborough Fire Station with – as ‘one of the kindest souls you could ever meet’.
As a tribute to him, his former colleagues Stu McCarthy, Ainsley Burton, Steven Giles, Jason Moon, Anna Young and Steve Butterworth will be cycling a total of 181 miles in full fire kit. They’ll take it in turns to cover stints of the distance on two Wattbikes in Loughborough town centre on Thursday, 21 September.
The group – most of whom still work in Loughborough – will be supported on the day by another friend, Stu Harrison, and hope to complete the ride in under five hours.
Crew Manager Stu McCarthy, who’s taking part and was close friends with Andy – known to his friends as Watty said:
“Our old Watch Manager summed it up best in his eulogy at the funeral. He used to say, if he could have cloned Watty and had nine of him on the Watch, there would never have been any issues whatsoever. He was an absolute pleasure to manage and was the perfect firefighter – fit, dedicated, disciplined, and knowledgeable. If he was on duty, you just knew it was going to be a good day.”
Stu has also seen what a difference funds from events like this can make, having received The Fire Fighters Charity’s support himself in the past.
The Charity supports serving and retired fire and rescue service personnel, their dependants and other eligible members of the UK fire services community, throughout their lives, helping them to live happier and healthier.
“I was actually booked in to visit Marine Court, one of the Charity’s three centres, the Sunday after Andy died, for some torn ligaments in my ankle. We lost him on the Thursday so those days immediately afterwards were hell. I was debating whether to still go down, but I knew getting away from everything would only be beneficial.
“By the time I’d got down there, somebody – and I still don’t know who – had already rung ahead and explained what had happened. It meant I had a lot of mental health support while I was there too. I ended up almost being there more for emotional support which was really helpful at that time.
“I then had a course of several sessions with a Psychological Therapist over Zoom following that, which I found very beneficial.”
The team chose the number 181 as it was Andy’s service number.
The team says on its fundraising page:
“Andy’s passing came as a massive shock to everyone who knew him and has left a giant hole in many people’s lives, from immediate family to work colleagues and friends alike.”
To support their fundraiser, click here.
With The Fire Fighters Charity relying almost entirely on donations to fund its vital work, none of the support offered to people like Stu would have been possible without the generosity of its supporters.
You can support members of the UK’s fire services community by donating now at: www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/donate.